A Response to Rajan Hoole re Reviews of Eelam War IV and Western Deceit

Michael Roberts

I chose to respond to Rajan Hoole’s Comment within the Colombo Telegraph presentation of my article on “The Western World’s Cumulous Clouds of Deception: …,” directly and privately on the 18th October… at about the same time that I addressed ALAN KEENAN of ICG privately re his Twitter comments.

The issues are complex and cannot be efficiently tackled within the confines of a COMMENTS BOX with word limits because assiduous readers need supporting citations, maps and pictorial insights. In fact, it is difficult to investigate this topic without a lengthy report that is perhaps one/third the size of the UNPoE Report.

While paying respect to the dead may be important, respect for the evidence and discerning methods of evaluation are the overriding requirements. So is honesty of purpose: Keenan did not want me to present his answer in the public realm, but both that request and his response are patently an attempt to deflect the lines of analysis I am pressing.

I have no knowledge whatsoever about the International Crisis Group’s source of funding. But their initial alteration of a key phrase in the UNPoE’s Report was just one gunshot in a volley of fire from a cohort of Western institutions and media giants. The prima facie indication is that of an alliance of minds and a grand strategy (in effect if not that of design)

The thrust of my summarizing article REVEALED that all these organisations, led by USA and its Secy-of-State’s Department, bought into the LTTE’s grand strategy in 2009 and sought to save the main core of the Tiger leadership [ditching the talaivar, but not making that public]. Given such a background, HOW can compromised segments of this Western conglomerate – including ICG, AI and various UN agencies implicated in that effort – be entrusted with an investigation in Sri Lanka !! I am prepared to repeat this charge ad infinitum.

My question is rhetorical. There is a Mafia out there in the Western world. To prove me wrong they have to address the literature I have produced … as well as the evidence associated with the Marga team’s representations in Geneva and Washington.

Rajan is a friend with an honesty of purpose. I would gladly have him in some commission of inquiry. But he must have personnel alongside him with military and technological experience. Rajan’s NOTE does not indicate to me that he has grasped the significance of the arguments based on the relationship between WOUNDED and DEAD in any battleground situation. This is central. If there were 40,000 dead, where were the 80,000 wounded [give or take 10,000 either way]?

In brief, it seems that Rajan Hoole has not transcended his bourgeois drawing room/office desk reasoning  — a line of assessment that continues to bedevil engagements with this complex topic  — a failing manifest in the UNPoE report as well as many other pontifications on the topic.  Honesty of purpose and compassion are not adequate modalities given such a serious deficiency.

I have asked Rajan to send me Chapter 8 of Palmyrah Fallen so that I can study it …. And also place it in Thuppahi … and/or to send a summary to this erstwhile web site, viz. Colombo Telegraph. I have asked him to indicate in what PRECISE ways it undermines my summary presentation. But I have also asked him to go through the PARANAGAMA COMMISSION and its subsidiary appendices — with Holmes, De Silva, Crane etc involved – before tackling that task.

To this endeavour, he should also add all the Reports of Lt Col Gash –  now conveniently available in ‘clumps’ in my web site; my essay “INTERPRETING THE GASH FILES: REFLECTIONS” at https://thuppahis.com/2018/04/29/reflections-interpreting-the-gash-files-iv/#more-30031  will lead him to the lot.

A final note: when I drafted the article that Rajan challenged, I myself failed to look at the Paranagama Report again and to go through NUMBERS GAME again. I will have to do this over time. In brief, I will be continually tackling this topic because I learn something new when I do so. So, too, incidentally, when I began addressing the “sacrificial devotion” of the Tamil Tigers  in 2003/04: I  kept churning out essays till 2012/13 because there were some new dimensions revealed as I explored deeper and engaged with scholars (Sivathamby, Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Schalk, Natali, Harman, etc) researching the field.


Dear Michael,

Repetitious writing of this kind could, sadly, become an obsession disrespectful to the dead on both sides, and particularly the civilians and LTTE conscripts who never wanted to be involved. War is terrible business and those who start an unwanted war are the most to blame. In this instance it was the LTTE that also killed escaping civilians. The Army launched a conventional advance. Its performance would have been less open to censure, had not large numbers of cadres and civilians disappeared after surrender to the Army.

This time you have not mentioned the UTHR(J) Report among your references. I thought the Marga Seminar you mentioned, where the initiative was taken mainly by Sinhalese civil society activists, was called to counter the Report of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Panel that has been very unfairly ridiculed in this country as the Darusman Report.

You have missed out another reference, perhaps in all your searches you never heard of it – namely Chapter 8 of my book Palmyra Fallen. It discusses the Marga Report – The Numbers Game. It estimates from the most credible statistics of the Vanni population available, before and after the final stretch of war in 2009, that the missing population, including civilians, LTTE cadres and conscripts, is about 100,000. Let us not play games with the dead, whether in partisan clashes at Geneva; through the officially acclaimed national heroes’ rhetoric in this country; or use the dead for political mileage to lionise the LTTE with its deplorable record. It has the effect of placing reconciliation beyond reach.


DEAR RAJAN, Thank you for your civil and restrained note in COL-Tel.

My review essay was based in part on distillations from previous essays – some of which I had to re-read (and there are other essays I had no time to read). Though I cited NUMBERS’ GAME, I only went to one segment of that huge essay.

The problem of hugeness bedevils your two UTHR reports.  And Yes I confess to having missed PALMYRAH FALLEN.

Another reason for skipping your UTHR work was that your warm heart led you to sympathise with the fate of young Tiger recruits –deemed “conscripts” and with civilians caught up as conscripted workers fo r the LTTE armed efforts. A young Tiger of 13 years with a gun and some training is a “belligerent” in war reviews  [and many US army personnel in the World wars were conscripts by  the way] ….  Likewise civilian cooks and fetchers and carriers were “belligerents” because an Army cannot survive without such support.

Another reason I did not re-visit your work was because I considered Narendran Rajasingham’s estimate [of the death toll] the best of the lot in comparison with Sarvananthan, Nadesan, UTHR and Citizen Silva [when I set out post 2011 to check Rohan Gunaratna’s absurdly low estimate]


A = The Marga team included DAVID BLACKER and PADRAIG MICHAEL O’LEARY. Blacker’s mother is Tamil and more to the point he is the only local investigator who has infantry experience.

B =Thangavelu’s estimate lists 113 Tigers executed and I have cited that item + White lies + Weiss on the Killing of some Tiger personnel, IN MY essay to OISL (reprinted in Thuppahi with another article using Pics)***  …. BUT I am not sure that these sources can support the statement that “large numbers of cadres and civilians disappeared after surrender to the Army.”

May I request a fresh article from your pen distilling the evidence you have in the works cited –set against my work and others. Place it in any venue you wish but do have the temerity to offer it to me as well for Thuppahi.

I am including several persons in this MEMO who are au fait with the issues. I do not think they will threaten you ….

I LOOK FORWARD TO AN ARTICLE WHERE YOU SUMMARIZE Palmyrah Fallen IN WAYS pertinent to the thrusts in my article.


Dear Rajan

I forgot something vital.

C = Is your estimate of 100.000 dead all told for the period 2006-09 or just the last phase in 2009? And to what extent is it dependent on Parthipan’s estimate of total population in February – a dicey one?

D = More vitally, do you address the MAIN PROBLEM with all the estimates: where were the 200,000 WOUNDED?


APPENDIX C: Alan Keenan’s TWITTER COMMENT = ……………………………..


What I’ve never understood is why Michael Roberts, a well-respected & careful scholar, doesn’t push hard for a proper, independent investigation into end-of-war casualties. What’s to fear from open inquiry – which the #SriLanka govt has never allowed?

APPENDIX D: Email Note from Roberts to Alan Keenan  [circa 18 October 2018]

Dear Alan ….

I cannot navigate TWITTER …Does it have space limits?

SO HERE GOES with a copy to a Sri Lankan who sent me your TWITTER LINE

You are avoiding the substantive issues raised within my essay on the foundations of detailed studies (both mine and others) and your comment seems to be an exercise in deflection.

Your brazen bravado is amazing: International Crisis Group has been charged with altering “CREDIBLE ALLEGATIONS” into “CREDIBLE EVIDENCE” …. And not correcting that ’error’ (!!@!!) when one Harshula pointed it out.

Let me confine myself to one strand of rebuttal here. The Western Powers became an active PARTY within E-War IV in 2008/09 when they bought into and supported the LTTE strategy of depicting an “impending humanitarian catastrophe”. When P SARAVANAMUTTU of CPA demanded in public that the SL forces should not direct artillery fire at the so-called NFZ [ which contained LTTE artillery, its HQ and its Sea Tiger forces], the CPA became an ally of the LTTE camp and its strategy (vide Pulidevan’s reasoning on this issue). This particular intervention was the more powerful because his was not a lone voice, but part of the Human Rights agencies//Western power lines of intervention.

It is a BASIC PRINCIPLE that any party to a conflict cannot sit in judgement in a trial relating to that conflict.

Can you provide facts that contradict those presented in my article, please.

APPENDIX D: Alan Keenan’s Email Note to Roberts, CIRCA 18 October 2018: ….. Censored

***  A NOTE: When the OISL investigation headed by Sandra Beidas in Geneva asked for memoranda relating to the conflict, I spent time composing one. However their specifications specifically refused to countenance maps and pictures. In short, they were conductIng  a serious survey with just one arm and one leg. I did send a report (whether looked at I cannot say). But in presenting that document to the public within my web site, I also composed an adjunct report deploying maps and photographs. Readers can evaluate the importance of this type of evidence by examining that document alongside my pictureless presentation to OISL

Just one among several snaps of Tamil people (including some Tiger cadres who had discarded their uniforms) streaming away from their rapped situation in April or May 2009 –perhaps 200,000 in that period


Hull, C. Bryson 2009 “Sri Lanka opens eye in the sky on war zone,” 20 April 2009, http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL450259

Hull, C. Bryson & Ranga Sirilal 2009a “Sri Lankan War in Endgame, 100,000 escape rebel zone,” 23 April 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-srilanka-war-idUSTRE53J0IZ20090422

Hull, C. Bryson & Ranga Sirilal 2009b “Sri Lanka’s long war in bloody final climax,” 17 May 2009, http://mg.co.za/article/2009-05-17-sri-lankas-long-war-in-bloody-final-climax

IDAG [i.e. Citizen Silva] 2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice OR  http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/document/TheNG.pdf

Jeyaraj D. B. S. 2011 “KP” Speaks Out,” Vavuniya: NERDO, Mum Pvt. Ltsd.

Mango 2014 “Sri Lanka’s War In Its Last Phase: Where WIA Figures Defeat The Gross KIA Estimates,” 14 February 2014, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-war-in-its-last-phase-where-wia-figures-defeat-the-gross-kia-estimates/

Marga  2011 Preliminary Summary re the Marga Seminar on the UNPoE Report” drafted by Godfrey Gunatilleka,http://www.margasrilanka.org/Darusman-Seminar%20Report.pdf

Marga 2011 An Analysis and Evaluation of The Report of the Advisory Panel to the UNSG nn the Final Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/0eybj1ynej6spaa/The%20Darusman%20Report-%20Final%20doc-2.doc

Marga 2011 Truth and Accountability. The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lankahttp://www.margasrilanka.org/Truth-Accountability.pdf.

Roberts, Michael 2013 “Introducing “Numbers Game” – A Detailed Study of the Last Stages of Eelam War IV,” 30 April 2013,https://thuppahis.com/2013/04/30/introducing-numbers-game-a-detailed-study-of-the-last-stages-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Essaysl, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2014“Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/04/10/generating-calamity-2008-2014-an-overview-of-tamil-nationalist-operations-and-their-marvels/

Roberts: Michael 2015  “Sturdy Advocacy: Marga’s Questioning of the UNPoE’s Assassination Job,” 25 November 2009, https://thuppahis.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=18544&action=edit&postpost=v2

Roberts: Michael 2014  “The War in Sri Lanka and Post-War Propaganda”  18 November 2014,    http://thuppahis.com/2014/11/18/the-war-in-sri-lanka-and-propaganda-debates/

Roberts: Michael 2014 “The Critical Significance of Pictorial and Cartographic [Data] in Deciphering Eelam War IV,”  3 November 2015,  https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/03/the-critical-significance-of-pictorial-and-cartographic-in-deciphering-eelam-war-iv-extract-from-a-letter-sent-to-the-oisl-team-in-geneva/

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Lilliputs in a World of Giants: Marga and CHA bat for Lanka in the Propaganda War, 2009-14,” 18 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/18/lilliputs-in-a-world-of-giants-marga-and-cha-bat-for-lanka-in-the-propaganda-war-2009-14/#more-18467

Sunday Times 2015 “Marga/CHA confront the OISL Investigation in Geneva, September 2014: Godfrey Gunatilleke in Q and A with Lasanda Kurukulasuriya,” 19 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/19/margacha-confront-the-oisl-investigation-in-geneva-september-2014-godfrey-gunatilleke-in-q-and-a-with-lasanda-kurukulasuriya/#more-18492

Thangavelu, Velupillai 2013 “LTTE Cadres Who Surrendered To The Army: Where Are They? Colombo Telegraph, 18 August 2013, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ltte-cadres-who-surrendered-to-the-army-where-are-they/

Thiagarajah, Jeevan 2015 “Confronting the OCHR Investigation in Geneva, September 2014: Memorandum from Jeevan Thiagarajah,” 19 November 2015,  https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/19/confronting-the-ochr-investigation-in-geneva-september-2014-memorandum-from-jeevan-thiagarajah/#more-18481

Thiagarajah:, Jeevan 2015 “Marga/CHA in Advocacy with BRIC Nations at Geneva, September 2014,” 19 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/19/margacha-in-advocacy-with-bric-nations-at-geneva-september-2014/#more-18498

“Marga & CHA Press Their Views in the Washington Den,” via Jeevan Thiagarajah: Memo on Visit to Washington, 16-23rd October 2014: Resetting the Discourse on Post-War Issues of Accountability,19 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=18505&action=edit&postpost=v2





Filed under accountability, american imperialism, atrocities, authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, conspiracies, doctoring evidence, gordon weiss, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, propaganda, Rajapaksa regime, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil Tiger fighters, trauma, truth as casualty of war, UN reports, war reportage, world events & processes